Snowboarding in the Northwest
Where to Get What You Need
Snowboarding in the Northwest
- The Hard Way: Learning to Snowboard
- Snowboarding in the Northwest
- Mountain High: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mountains
- A Quick Guide to Western Washington's Snow Parks
- Snow Business: Snowboarding Is an Extreme American Success Story
- Snow Job: Snowboarding Hasn't Earned Its "Green" Reputation
- Gearing Up: Where to Get What You Need
A newcomer to the sport of snowboarding could easily spend over $1,000 on all the necessary gear—a board, bindings, boots, goggles, gloves, and clothing—before taking one step onto a mountain. Before you abandon your dreams of big-mountain turns and halfpipe tricks, here are some cash-saving ways to get all the stuff you need.
Take the Clothes off Your Friends' Backs
Clothes are the most important when you're first learning—staying warm and dry trumps high-end gear any day. You'll need: a waterproof jacket and snowboard pants, a synthetic base layer (AKA long johns), synthetic or wool socks, and a hat or helmet. Avoid cotton—if you sweat or get wet, it will only make you colder.
Borrow clothes from friends who ski or board—a pair of pants here and some goggles there will allow you to start learning with little investment. If your friends prefer to surf couches instead of powder stashes, visit the for-sale forum at www.snowboardseattle.com and post a "clothing wanted" message; you're likely to find experienced riders with cheap clothes (and advice) to spare. You'll also be surprised what worthy second-hand items you can rummage at Goodwill (pants: $5–$8, jackets: $10–$20) or specialty resale locations Second Ascent and Play It Again Sports. Except for socks. If you ever plan to carpool to the lifts, please buy those new.
Try Before You Buy
Whether you rent at a resort or from a local store, you'll have access to knowledgeable people who can reduce the dizzying array of boarding paraphernalia down to what will work for you. Prices average $30–$35 for a full-day rental package of a board, bindings, and boots; Stevens Pass rents outerwear for $33 per day, and some locations offer season rentals (Summit at Snoqualmie, $99; Sports X, $180; Sturtevant's, $199.95).
At a resort, the shop is on-site if you have any issues (e.g., bindings becoming loose or your boots starting to hurt), but you could face long lines and more beat-up equipment. Both the Summit and Stevens offer "EZ 123" bundles, with three days of equipment rental, lift tickets, and instruction for $99 or $149, respectively.
Seattle-area store rentals can be cheaper ($25 per day at Sturtevant's and Sports X), but you're stranded if everything doesn't work properly. However; the equipment is generally newer, plus you can pick it up the day before you need it, and return it the day after. Snowboard Connection rents board packages for $35 per day, but also offers free rentals to parents who want to learn to board with their kids. The limit on parental rentals is surprisingly laissez-faire: "Just don't abuse it," says John Logic, the store's owner.
Mix Retail Shopping with Bargain Hunting
When you're ready to buy your own gear, a host of heavily discounted or used options exist. But don't skimp when it comes to boots. Boot fit is essential and you'll only suffer if you go with used boots. Try on as many as possible to find a comfortable brand-new pair ($140–$170), and scour for bargains on everything else. The key is to do your research while renting: Ask as many questions as possible to identify what you want, then start hunting.
For discounted new gear, try the REI garage sales in March or the discount area at the Yale Avenue store; Sturtevant's; and SkiBonkers, a gigantic Labor Day sale featuring all the local shops. You should be able to score a used board and bindings for $150–$200 at Play It Again Sports, on Craigslist and local online forums, or at the Seattle Snow Sports Expo gear swap in November. Also keep your eyes open for swaps hosted by Crystal and Summit patrol staff. When buying used, stay local so you can see what you're getting; verify that bindings come with all original hardware, and the board's base is gouge free and the layers aren't coming apart (delaminating).
One last detail: Buy a lock ($10–$15). On January 2, eight snowboards were stolen from the Summit. While theft is an extremely cheap alternative, only assholes do it and you don't want to carry that kind of karma up a mountain. Instead, once you've got the gear you need, ride it like you stole it.
Hey Big Spender
If you've got cash to spare, visit Snowboard Connection for a Burton Custom X snowboard ($650) or Roxy Ally Magnetraction ($400), paired with Salomon Relay bindings ($240). Slide into the Burton SL9 boot ($450) for what one customer called a "foot orgasm" and go take a few long runs by yourself.
Play It Again Sports
1304 Stewart St, 206-264-9255
222 Yale Ave N, 206-223-1944
5209 Ballard Ave NW, 206-545-8810
604 Alaskan Way, 206-467-8545
2232 15th Ave W, 206-285-4777
1100 Bellevue Way NE, 425-454-6465